Mindfulness, Uncertainty, and Courage

Posted on: December 30th, 2015 by

As I write this, my brother and I are on an emergency trip to Florida.

Our dad broke a hip.


Also suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, our dad had surgery and is now in a rehabilitation center.

The future is uncertain. And I am scared. My mom is also understandably frightened about what 2016 holds. If I think too much about this upcoming year, I jump to hasty conclusions about my dad’s outcome. Despite my fear, though, I realize that while I cannot control what ultimately happens to my dad, I have the power to choose how to handle this situation.

With 2016 right around the corner, this is time to recalibrate and transform myself into a more mindful person. My last post was all about mindfulness and living in the present. Now I must practice what I preach, starting here in Florida.

I take long early morning walks here. I savor everything I sense: from plants, flowers, animals, and palm trees, as I slowly breathe in the subtropical scents. Slowing down to appreciate all the beauty as I get my exercise in is incredibly calming to me. And it helps me collect myself on the many visits to my father.

Now, during this crucible, it is more important than ever to live in the present moment and not jump hastily onto the road of future possibilities. I can’t help anyone if I don’t help and take care of myself first. That’s partly why I have forced myself not to slip into the abyss of depression. I eat all my meals, get enough sleep, and exercise. I’ve got to ignore my inner voices that tell me I’m selfish for thinking of myself so much. Truth is, if I succumb to depression and anxiety, then I cannot be helpful to my parents.

I must also sit with uncertainty. This is incredibly difficult to do. Jonathan Fields’ excellent book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance has taught me the importance of being able to accept — and even embrace — uncertainty. Easier said than done, I know. But the reality is that nobody is exempt from the unknown. Rather than panic about the future, I choose to “lean into uncertainty,” as Fields recommends.

I continue to seek courage each day. In 2016, I will need it in abundance. I hope I can be brave enough to help my mom make the right decisions on my dad’s behalf. I must draw on courage and strength to sit with uncertainty and to advocate for my parents.

And I don’t mean to sound selfish here, but prior to my dad’s breaking his hip, I was working diligently on my manuscript for an upcoming book. I’d been planning to launch my book in summer 2016. I’ve been working on the book for years and I want to finally publish it. But with my dad’s medical situation, I feel like shelving this goal altogether.

But I need to draw on mindfulness, as well as coping with uncertainty and courage, to continue with my book with the goal of launching in 2016. Perhaps this will be a good distraction from all the emotional pain I’m in right now.

So my three words for 2016 are mindfulness, uncertainty, and courage. I may falter, but I will be faithful to these words.

To all my dear readers, have a wonderful New Year filled with health and joy.

What are your words for 2016?

What are your plans/goals/resolutions for the upcoming year?

Palm Trees

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15 Responses to Mindfulness, Uncertainty, and Courage

  1. Scott Johnson had this to say about that:

    Sorry to hear about your Dad Beth. Keeping yourself together can be really hard sometimes and it sounds like you are being deliberately focused it. And it’s working. Was just reading about how difficult situations can throw us off balance and separate us from our strengths and it will be my 2016 resolution to get some of myself back.

    I find it interesting that when the idea of “control” is brought I feel helpless like it’s too much for me. I don’t want to be in charge of the universe, just me is good though.

    Take Care

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      Your goal of being in charge of you is a good, realistic one. You are right about how trying situations “can throw us off balance and separate us from our strengths.”

      As far as being focused on keeping myself together, this is a tall order I know, especially since the future is so uncertain and seems precarious. I hope I am able to navigate through the uncertainty with grace and courage.

  2. Kathi had this to say about that:

    Oh, Beth, I’m sorry to hear that your family is having to deal with this. It’s very hard when our parents get old and start having more health crises. Your poor mom in particular must be so upset. It can be hard to stay mindful in this circumstance, yet it is a helpful and sensible thing to do. Will be keeping your family in my thoughts and hoping for the best outcome. xoxo, Kathi

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. My mom is very upset, and I’m trying to instill a sense of encouragement in her: We’ve gotten out and had fun even through this crisis.

      I appreciate your good wishes. Thank you so much.

  3. Rebecca had this to say about that:

    Beth, I am very sorry you and your family are going through a difficult time with your dad’s health. I hope you are able to find some sense of peace.

    About your book, that is some exciting news. Perhaps you can continue with that project next year as it might help you distract yourself. You know best so trust yourself to do what’s right for you.

    Personally, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions as I find myself reflecting about my life everyday. There is something I would like to accomplish soon though, and that is to be able to accept that it is OK not to have control sometimes.It’s OK to let life happens and let things be. I picked a hard one, I know.

    I hope 2016 is kind to you and your love ones. I’ll be thinking of you and sending prayers your way. xoxo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you, Rebecca, for your kind wishes for the New Year. I think throwing myself into my book project is certainly a good idea, as it would provide a great distraction and keep me busy. Very busy, in fact.

      I’m hoping you accomplish your goal and that your dreams come true.

      I appreciate your prayers.

  4. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I am so sorry to hear about your dad’s fall. I hope he is recovering okay. It’s very stressful dealing with your parents’ health issues and living far apart makes it even tougher I’m sure. It’s wonderful you are able to be there for a while. Your three words are so wisely chosen, Beth. Practicing mindfulness is much easier said than done, though, that’s for sure. And uncertainty – yes, that’s a big word meaning-wise, isn’t it? As is courage. I am confident you will be a tremendous support for both your mother and your dad. And focusing on your book whenever you can is certainly not in any way being selfish. I look forward to reading it, btw. Good luck with things. Wishing you the best in 2016. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts. xo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your good wishes for my dad’s recovery. The stress level is definitely high when it comes to taking care of my parents and especially because of the distance. I’m flying out to Florida in two weeks to check on things and two weeks after that my brother is flying out.

      All we can do is try our best to make our parents’ lives easier.

      May you have a wonderful 2016.

  5. Marie had this to say about that:

    Wonderful post Beth. I struggle with acceptance and uncertainty so your words found a place in my heart today. I hope your father makes a full recovery and that the year ahead is filled with good health and happiness for you all x

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you, Marie! I also struggle with acceptance and uncertainty, and I’m glad that this post resonated with you.

      Thank you for your wonderfully kind wishes. I hope this new year finds you and your loved ones well and happy.

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  7. Ruth had this to say about that:

    A beautiful post Beth, your three words speak to me in my post-treatment up+down life. Thank you for the examples you give of mindfulness, uncertainty and courage.

    Wishing you well-being and peace as you walk these days with your self and your family

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Ruth,

      Thank you so much for your high compliment about my post and your well wishes for the year(s) ahead.

      Post-treatment life is filled with ups and downs; it seems that, if we are lucky enough to get to post-treatment, the world is turned upside down. Hang in there, breathe, and take one day at a time.

      I wish the best for you in your recovery.

  8. Martine had this to say about that:

    Beth, Such an insightful and moving article. Thank you for sharing. I hope your dad is doing okay now. Your reference to mindfulness reminded me that I need to do that too, and that taking care of me first isn’t selfish, but a positive step.
    Happy New Year to you too.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Martine,

      Thank you for your well wishes regarding my dad; I really appreciate it. Yes, self-care is so vital, especially in trying times.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

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